NEW BRITAIN - The Steering Committee for this yearâ€™s Little Poland Festival, scheduled to return to Broad Street onÂ April 29, is considering expanding and extending the highly successful event.
Lucian Pawlak, organizer of the sixth annual event, said that this yearâ€™s festival will set up between 8 and 10 a.m., begin atÂ 10 a.m.Â and hold its opening ceremony atÂ 12:30 p.m.Â It will feature live music and vendors offering Polish food and beer and crafts ranging from jewelry to bird houses.
â€śSome of our most popular live entertainment includes the Polanie dance group and the Broad Street Blues Band,â€ť said Pawlak. â€śWe also have polka bands and may consider bringing in a popular artist from Poland. We will also have a paczki-eating contest atÂ 2 p.m.,Â sponsored by the New Britain Herald.â€ť
In past years, the festival featured two entertainment stages and went untilÂ 6 p.m., with roads reopening atÂ 7 p.m.Â This year, a third stage may be added, with festival hours possibly extending toÂ 8 p.m.Â If this happens, there would be room to increase the number of vendors from 60 to 80.Â
The Little Poland Festivalâ€™s steering committee was scheduled to meetÂ Jan. 7Â at the Pulaski Club atÂ 89 Grove St.
â€śThe festival is so popular that weâ€™re considering expanding it, but we have to take into consideration the additional costs. It costs us between $20,000 to $22,000 to put on this event,â€ť said Pawlak. â€śLast year we worked hand in hand with public works to keep the trash cans emptied and garbage picked up. If we were to expand the festival, weâ€™d also be probably looking at paying the police an additional $3,000 to $4,000. At the same time, weâ€™ve had some people who arrived later that were disappointed that it wasnâ€™t going beyondÂ 6 p.m.Â Also, in the last three years that Iâ€™ve been involved, the vendors have all been running out of food and drinks and making profits. The festival has been growing by leaps and bounds and Iâ€™ve been getting emails since last November from people who are interested in it.â€ť
Pawlak said he has been involved in the cityâ€™s Dozynki Festival for more than 30 years. He recalls a time when that festival was held on Broad Street and drew 40,000 to 60,000 people. His goal is to achieve the same for this event.
Pawlak said that the Little Poland Festival was originally held in just two parking lots. Now, people pack three city blocks - potentially four if the expansion goes through. The steering committee for the festival may also consider continuing it for a second day. The festival committee may also consider raising the cost of vendor participation fees.
â€śIâ€™ve never talked to a vendor who said that they didnâ€™t make good money,â€ť said Pawlak.
Last year, visitors to the Little Poland Festival were allowed to park in the nearby city parking garage. Transportation was provided from there via shuttle. This will also return this year.
Pawlak encouraged those who had never been to the Little Poland Festival to come and have a good time.
â€śCome if you like good food and good beer,â€ť he said. â€śThis is an atmosphere that you canâ€™t recreate at an amusement park or public park. It is an opportunity to participate in a unique street festival with a Polish twist â€“ and thereâ€™s no hospitality like Polish hospitality.â€ť
Those who wish to donate or become a sponsor or become involved as a vendor or volunteer can call Lucian Pawlak atÂ 860-670-4955Â or visit the law office of Adrian Baron atÂ Podorowsky Thompson & Baron at 202 Broad St.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached atÂ 860-973-1806Â orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.